Marc started attending Fun Time Early Childhood Academy in August after being referred to our school through the Head Start program. Although Sabine, Marc’s mom, had the option of a different location closer to her home, she chose Fun Time after a tour and learning of all the parent events we had to offer and community resources we could connect her with. She loved our philosophy regarding family involvement and could not wait to be a part of the Fun Time family. While Marc attended his play date to meet his teachers and new classmates, Sabine told us her family suddenly became a one-income household because of not only recently giving birth but breaking her foot recently as well. Since August, Marc has been assessed in literacy and math and the teachers have also observed his social-emotional behavior in order to create a baseline to track his growth throughout the year.  

On September 28, 2022, life as the Estainvil/Michel family knew it was flipped completely upside down after they experienced complete loss of their home, cars and all their belongings because of the flooding from Hurricane Ian. Marc and his family suddenly found themselves with no place to live, nothing to wear and no transportation. When Fun Time reopened on Monday, October 3, we noticed that Marc was one of approximately 40 students who were not in attendance at school that day. Our administrative staff immediately went to work calling all the families of the children who were absent, and it was then that we found out about the devastating loss that his family was enduring.  

In addition to Marc’s family, there were several others who were severely impacted by the hurricane and lost or had damage to their personal items, cars and homes.  As the staff at Fun Time began to reach out to community resources, we were thankful to start receiving donations of water, food from Harry Chapin and Meals of Hope, clothing, diapers, formula, toilet paper and other necessities that we were able to give to our families in need. Since Marc’s family suffered such a loss, we didn’t stop there and helped Sabine connect with various resources from the Collier Cares app, FEMA to apply for assistance and to submit an application with another local grant foundation that provided her with funding to purchase lost items.  Sabine was standing in the hallway of Fun Time as she received a text telling her she could live in an Airbnb as temporary housing. Due to a language barrier because English is her second language, she did not understand the text at first and was in tears when she realized that her family, including her two young children, now had a safe and dry place to live.  

Thanks to Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) for providing financial support to help us keep our doors open even in times of devastating loss in the community.  By providing funds to Fun Time, our center can remain open – providing a safe environment and quality education to the children and, in this case, life-changing resources to the families we serve.  Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the children in our community.